The Uncertainty of Winter Sports at SPFHS: A Covid Dilemma


Anthony Malta & Jada Montgomery, Staff Writers

On a typical winter night, senior Hayden Widder would lace his sneakers in the locker room in preparation for his basketball game later that evening. But, in 2020, there will be no shots put up, no buzzer beaters and no Raiders Basketball until two months after the usual start of the season. 

 The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) recently released their plans for winter sports, and among those is the postponing of the Boys and Girls basketball seasons to early January. 

“With a longer offseason, I will simply put in more work to get better at my position and to help my teammates get better as well,” Widder said. “Basketball is still basketball so no matter what happens, if we are playing, I will have the same approach.” 
As for Alicia Murphy, a sophomore on the girls Varsity Basketball team, she is thankful that a season is even happening. 

“It  would be different and something to adapt to,” Murphy said. “I’ve already been through a covid season with Field Hockey in the fall, so I am hoping for just a few good games at the least.” 

Murphy is still setting meaningful goals for herself for this turbulent season. 

“This season, I am going to focus on improving my skills and gameplay and will do my best to help my teammates.”  

Head girls varsity coach Ryan McKenna has already created a COVID-19 plan for the program. 

“We are limiting roster sizes to 12 and separating the practices between the levels,” McKenna said. “Typically, we would have JV and Varsity practice together, but that won’t be the case this year. We are limiting the amount of time that we will be indoors, possibly doing some conditioning outdoors. Of course the coaches will be wearing masks and players that are not actively playing will be wearing masks.” 

He is hopeful that the season will prevail successfully because he believes that “It’s very important for students to have an outlet outside of virtual learning.”

Ryan Miller, Athletic Director at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School and member of the Sports Advisory Task Force for NJSIAA is tasked with the difficult job of working out the limitations to ensure the safety of players, coaches and staff. Miller acknowledges that there are measures to be taken to create a safe environment for winter athletics. 

“Limitations of practice time, limitations on participants per session, sanitization of the equipment, longer durations between practice levels and banning the use of the locker rooms are among those measures,” Miller said. “New challenges are the change in seasons and overlaps for athletes and coaches – we may have to make choices on which sport to participate in or coach.”

Before even stepping on the court, these athletes showed their dedication and motivation for this season to continue. However, the cold winter weather and being indoors could create a COVID-19 super-spreader event. Basketball also has a high contact nature, whether it be multiple people touching the physical ball or player-to-player defensive skills. There can only be hope for a good short season to safely prevail.